Live-Blogging the Chuck Brown Memorial
As many as 14,500 people will fill the Walter E. Washington Convention Center today for Chuck Brown's funeral. We'll be blogging it live from 11 a.m to 4 p.m.
3:25 p.m. Ceremony was heartfelt, raucous, right. Check back on Arts Desk later today for more updates!
3:24 p.m. Rev. Freeman giving a benediction. No more Satan talk please!
3:23 p.m. Simpson: "Boy, that was something!"
3:22 p.m. Feels like the end of a concert (and it is). Everyone's up from their seats. Those hoping to beat the crowds are making their way out. DJ Kool is clearing his throat.
3:20 p.m. Heard a bridge or two of Rare Essence in there. Now the big finale: "Bustin' Loose." Controversial opinion: Actually the least danceable song in the medley.
3:16 p.m. KK's rapping "Chuck Baby." Chuck baby don't give a...can you say that at a funeral? (They're saying "what.")
3:13 p.m. The coffin is exiting while the all-star band plays "Go-Go Swing."
3:11 p.m. The medley is winding up. "Wind Me Up Chuck," now "We Need Some Money" and "Run Joe." Chuck's grandson has a mic.
3:09 p.m. Mayor's office's current attendance estimate is about 9,000 attendees. Won't have official count till after the event, obviously.
3:07 p.m. The Chuck Brown Band is getting ready for the big medley, joined by go-go heavies Sugar Bear, James Funk, White Boy, and Big Tony.
2:55 p.m. Freeman is talking about Satan. Wind me up, Jesus.
2:52 p.m. Raheem DeVaughn just sang "Song for You." Now Dr. Michael A. Freeman is giving a eulogy, praising Brown's faith.
2:40 p.m. Simpson reads a proclamation from Fairmount Heights, Md., declaring a Chuck Brown Day.
2:36: Chuck's sons give brief, emotional remarks. Now his grandson is rapping about him.
2:35 p.m. KK: "Even the bootleggers, I love you."
2:34 p.m. Chuck's kids are on stage now. KK: "One thing he didn't want you doing is crying." "My father was in so much pain at his last show but he performed." Lesson of Chuck's life was humbleness, she says.
2:29 p.m. And now Mike Epps is on. Once, Chuck told him to buy, well, something from Marion Barry. Crowd is losing it, Barry raises arms in triumph.
2:28 p.m. And now Huggy Lowdown is dancing.
2:23 p.m. Chris Paul and Huggy Lowdown: It's a historic day because it's a "Chuck Brown party with no cover charge." Um?
2:18 p.m. Nat "The Bush Doctor" Mathis is speaking. He met Chuck in '62. "Chuck was from old school, and Chuck was new school." And he was a boxer.
2:17 p.m. Bad Boy's Chucky Thompson gave remembrance. Now promoter Daryll Brooks: Says Mayor, Council, Del. Norton came through big for Chuck's family.
2:09 p.m. Big G is speaking: Once asked Chuck what to do about his froggy voice. Chuck said to do what he does.
2:02 p.m. Members of the Brown family singing "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" a cappella.
2:01 p.m. Very pleased that Demont "Peekaso" Pinder—you know him—is next to the stage painting a Chuck portrait.
1:57 p.m. But first some music. Kindred Family Soul does "Nature Boy." A favorite of Chuck's, apparently.
1:56 p.m. Coming up soon at the Chuck memorial: Remarks from Big G, Doug E. Fresh, Mike Epps, and more. Omarosa, thankfully, is not on the schedule.
1:50 p.m. And a moment of silence.
1:45 p.m. Rerunning a clip from Carson Daly now—from Chuck's Grammy nomination.
1:39 p.m. More go-go gospel, this time via Tye Tribbett. This has some nice edge.
1:31 p.m. Willie Jolley has a motivational minute (actually he's scheduled for three): "Chuck taught us your past does not equal your future."
1:30 p.m. Barry: "Chuck Brown had a great dash to him."
1:27 p.m. Barry met Chuck when latter came to speak at Pride, Inc. Taught that "you can get up...And if anyone knows that, it's Marion Barry."
1:26 p.m. Word is the venue is about 80 percent full. Some people seem to be showing up on their lunch break.
1:24 p.m. Barry asks crowd to point at the family. "I love you, Brown family."
1:23 p.m. Reminder! Marion Barry once rapped with Chuck. NEVER FORGET.
1:21 p.m. Marion Barry is up: "I just got a message from Little Benny. D.C. better treat Chuck right."
1:15 p.m. Ledisi is on, singing "Wind Beneath My Wings." "There is always strong people behind strong people," she says, dedicating the song to the family.
1:12 p.m. Spotted Ron Moten on the video feed. Jones is singing a lush "Go-Go Swing" now.
1:11 p.m. Cliff Jones: "Ain't no city like Chuck Brown's city." I think people are singing back.
1:04 p.m. Cliff Jones singing "Steal Away to Jesus."
1:03 p.m. Simpson acknowledges the Mayor for Life, apologizes to current mayor.
1:02 p.m. K. Brown: Build a go-go hall of fame. Maybe we could get some go-go clubs back first?
12:59 p.m.: K. Brown: "For all the people that just moved to the District of Columbia that have a problem with go-go music, get over it." I want names.
12:58 p.m. Council Chairman Kwame Brown. "I am go-go." And tells media to make sure they get it right.
12:57 p.m. Del. Norton: "As long as there's a District of Columbia there will always be a Chuck Brown party!" She wants Aug. 22, Chuck's birthday, to be Chuck Brown Day.
12:53 p.m.: Norton: "Let the world know this. D.C. discovered Chuck Brown before the National Endowment for the Arts and before the Grammys discovered Chuck Brown." It's true.
12:51 p.m. Norton: "The overbearing presence of official Washington often smothered the identity of hometown Washington." Out-of-towners could not tell difference between Washington and D.C. "Then came the godfather."
12:49 p.m. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton: Welcomes crowd to the "Chuck Brown going-away party."
12:48 p.m.: Chuck Brown Park: "A place where Joe can run," says Gray.
12:47 p.m.: Gray: "We need to find a way to remember Chuck forever." In a few days he's sending a piece of legislation to the D.C. Council to name a park after Brown. Standing o.
12:46 p.m.: Gray: "It could be raining outside and Chuck could get people going!"
12:44 p.m. Gray: "His music embodied the best of what our city could be."
12:42 p.m. Mayor Gray: "D.C. knows how to send somebody home, don't we?"
12:36 p.m. Y'Anna Crawley is belting through a very emotional "Thank You."
12:33 p.m. Another quick slideshow, followed by an interview with Chuck, followed by some live footage. Chuck live! Chuck with kids! Chuck singing in the rain! Nice.
12:27 p.m. There's a somewhat robust go-go gospel circuit in the area. But do they have P.A. tapes? I want.
12:25 p.m. Isaiah Thomas is performing "Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus," joined by a massive choir. Here's some video of Chuck doing it.
12:22 p.m. Rev. Lee: This "isn't a pity party but a celebration!" But first, some scripture.
12:21 p.m. Lots of local pols sitting on the dais. Looked like most walked in from the back; Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry made his way through the crowd.
12:19 p.m. Reverend Tony Lee from Community of Hope is giving the opening prayer.
12:16 p.m. Folks at home: You can watch an online stream of the memorial here.
12:14 p.m. And they can crank smooth. Playing "I Love the Lord" now, sans go-go pocket.
12:12 p.m. The Chuck Brown Memorial Band—and yeah, they can crank—is led by guitarist Wayne Bruce.
12:10 p.m. Simpson: "Turn off your cellphones." "Take off your shoes if they're hurtin' already."
12:08 p.m. "Go-go swing" is blasting, and Donnie Simpson is dancing with Mayor Vince Gray.
12:07 p.m. The ceremony's officient is former WPGC personality Donnie Simpson. "One of the reasons I loved Chuck so much is that Chuck was always about D.C."
11:45 a.m. Voices of Hope, from the Community of Hope AMEC church, and Willie Blount are warming up the crowd—which is definitely dancing—with shimmery, go-go-inflected gospel.
11:37 a.m. Well, not quite 14,500—there are still plenty of empty seats. Waffling on attending? Get down here!
Photo by Darrow Montgomery